The pool dubbed the 'Pool of Death' took the stage today at the National Secondary Schools Kapa Haka Competition, Te Kura Wiwini, Te Kura Wawana. The pool featured many of the country's top teams.
The venue is packed this evening as people await the announcement of the nine teams to take the stage again tomorrow.
Of today's groups, a few favourites include Te Arawa teams, Raukura and Te Rōpū Manaaki, reigning champions Ngā Taiātea, local team Gisborne Girls and Boys High Schools, and Te Piringa.
At an isolated East Coast bay, preparation for Te Piringa is underway. Here, they were soothing nerves ahead of the performance that they've spent three months waiting for.
This is the first time the national secondary schools competition has held a finals day. It's a decision Te Piringa fully supports.
According to a tutor for Te Piringa, Tiya Blake,”The national committee has come up with something that pushes this event into the future.”
All Te Arawa groups are in the final pool and despite the rivalry, they all have one common theme, to pay homage to beloved leaders who they've recently lost.
“Our elder, Rawiri (Rangitauira), passed away just recently, and I'm sure all of Te Arawa will be feeling that,” says a tutor for Te Rōpū Manaaki, Dan Vaka.
Without a doubt, Ngā Taiātea will have the pressure of being the defending champions, but they too are bereaved with the sudden loss of a loved one.
“We're all excited, but there is also a lot of sadness and love for one of our teachers who just buried their baby yesterday, and that's something that pushed our kids to sing and uplift all of our babies, and acknowledge our baby, Te Whānau a Kai, and I know that's something we've all carried with us,” says the principal of Ngā Taiātea, Watson Ohia.
Very soon, an announcement will be made on who the top nine groups will be, and they'll take the stage in tomorrow's final.